I’m going to admit to you right off the bat, that this story is gross. It’s not vulgar, it’s just kind of sick. It’s out of the ordinary for BourbonAndVinyl, but it still makes me laugh in that junior high, National Lampoon kinda way. So, with that in mind, read at your own discretion, you’ve been warned. Hopefully, you’ll get a chuckle.
There aren’t many advantages to working for a multi-national, enormous corporation. One of the few advantages is that you get to meet a lot of people from a lot of different places. From Paris and Rome to Arkansas and Alabama. A friend of mine, Michael was shipped off to one of those small, backwater towns that only my company has representation in and he shared this story with me. We have two small office buildings located next to the headquarters of a large company in this small town. Our complex is across the parking lot and over some ancient railroad tracks. It appears we’re on the wrong side of the tracks, if this story has any validity.
Most of the hard core sales guys reside in Building One of the complex. In Building Two we house a large contingent of people from other cultures who do a lot of our IT work. These two populations, the sales guys and the IT guys rarely co-mingle as they have separate missions like they have separate buildings. However, the hard core sales guys often have to hold meetings over in the IT building, as meeting space is sparse. One of the hard core Sales Leaders in this office is a fierce, crew cut, belt-and-suspenders-at-the-same-time guy named Sarge. Sarge is a ginger with fiery red hair and when he gets fired up about something he turns purple his face turns so red. Sarge is usually fired up about something, it doesn’t take a whole lot to turn his face red with rage or happiness. Both emotions look the same on the guy.
Sarge got in the habit of hosting meetings over in the IT building because nobody ever wanted to make the effort to walk the short distance to the second building and thus the meeting rooms were always open. Plus the second building had the advantage of being “away from the maddening crowd” and the prying eyes and ears that are so prevalent in any small office setting. Pretty soon Sarge got in the habit of setting up in a conference room over in the IT building and working there all day. He’d get to the office early and leave late. He’s just that type of guy. He probably does push ups in there for all I know. I’ve always taken a more casual approach to work.
Late one night Sarge went into the men’s room in the IT building to splash a little water on his face to keep himself alert while he worked on the current proposal he was immersed in. He realized immediately upon entering the men’s room that something was amiss. It smelled like somebody had killed a goat in there. He literally gagged upon opening the door. It didn’t take long to surmise what had happened. Someone had taken a shit in the trashcan. Sarge was dumbfounded. There were two working toilets in the bathroom, merely feet away from this defiled trash can. Sarge was horrified… worse yet, Sarge was motivated for justice. He was going to find this man, this animal, this….Phantom Shitter.
He raced across the parking lot to his boss’s office, his boss liked to work late too apparently. Sarge stammered with rage, “Boss….somebody…. somebody…” he was struggling to even get the words out, Sarge was that horrified. “What is it Sarge, what’s wrong?” his boss inquired. “Someone shit in the trash can in the men’s room in Building 2”. I would have paid cash money to have witnessed all of this live. Well, from afar anyway. Feces makes me wretch.
Sarge’s boss was a man full of good humor and much to Sarge’s chagrin, his boss laughed out loud when he heard this news. It was gross yes, but it was nothing to turn red in the face over. Sarge’s boss quietly had his secretary type up a secret memo about hygiene and proper use of the bath room, something very HR-centric and in a sealed envelope, sent the memo with Sarge over to building 2 so he could tape it, without a lot of fan fare, to the inside of the bathroom door. I’m not sure what the note said, but I think it had to be something like, “Please don’t shit in the trashcan,” but who knows. As he taped the note to the door, Sarge smiled to himself. This trashcan shitting would surely come to an end.
Late that evening, despite his misgivings, Sarge had to use the men’s room. He felt confident as he walked down the hall to the bathroom, the office was deserted and certainly the memo carefully taped inside the door would have done it’s job and he wouldn’t discover a shit stained trash can. But still, he was nervous. It’s very unnerving to find something like shit in the trashcan.
Upon opening the door to the men’s room all of Sarge’s worst fears came true. The room once again smelled like a goat who’d been eating curry for a week had exploded. As the door closed behind him, Sarge’s eyes began to water as the smell almost overwhelmed him. He could feel himself on the verge of swooning so bad was the smell. He turned to run from the bathroom and it’s shit filled trash can. And that’s when Sarge first saw the inside of the men’s room door… And there, to Sarge’s horror, smeared over the door and his carefully taped-up memo about not shitting in the trashcan, was a giant Smiley-face…written in, yes, smeared shit.
The Phantom Shitter had a sense of humor.
Sarge ran from the bathroom horrified, but he was also transformed. He was now a man with a mission. This was personal now. The Phantom Shitter’s shit stained smiley-face was clearly a message to Sarge, at least in Sarge’s mind. His obsession with the Phantom Shitter quickly jumped the rails to “out of control” territory. He had, in his little conference room that he now kept locked with the shades drawn, a wall with work schedules of all the IT guys. It looked like something out of the TV show, “Homeland”, with strings connecting different memos and hand written sticky-notes with Sarge’s mad musings scribbled in magic marker on them. He was going to slowly narrow down, based on work schedules, who was in the building at the time of the shitting incidents. This man, this smiley-faced bastard was going to be caught and then Sarge himself would march the smart-ass fucker out of the building.
After three weeks and two more shitting incidents, Sarge’s boss decided to bring in an HR expert to have a meeting with all the hard-core sales guys and the IT guys to talk about culture and hygiene when it comes to the use of the restrooms. I think Sarge’s boss scheduled the meeting more out of fear that Sarge was going to snap vs concern about the actual shitting. He had to include the sales guys in the meeting because he didn’t want it to look like he was assuming it was one of the IT guys. So half the meeting was rapt-attention, IT guys listening respectfully and the other half of the room was like a high school class with a substitute teacher. They did everything but throw spit balls. During the entire meeting, Sarge stood at the front of the room, behind the HR person glaring at each IT guy, in an attempt to see into their soul, to find out, if he could, who the shitter was.
Sadly, to date, the Phantom Shitter has never been apprehended. But after the HR meeting, all Phantom Shitting behavior ceased. We may never know who the culprit was, but it’s pretty unnerving to think… somewhere, he’s out there, defiling trashcans… Meanwhile, Sarge generally drives down the street to the Starbucks when he needs to go to the bathroom. He’s having trouble putting this behind him.